Quotable



Photo credit to Pinterest, quote from The Grand Weaver: How God Shapes Us Through the Events of Our Lives, Ravi Zacharias (pgs. 90).

Passage to Ponder


Pinterest
Psalm 84
How lovely is Your dwelling place,
      Lord of Hosts.
I long and yearn for the courts of the Lord;
      my heart and flesh cry out
    for the living God.

Even a sparrow finds a home,
      and a swallow, a nest for herself
    where she places her young -
near Your altars, Lord of Hosts,
      my King and my God.
How happy are those who reside
      in Your house,
who praise You continually.

Happy are the people whose strength
      is in You,
    whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.
As they pass through the Valley of Baca,
      they make it a source of springwater;
    even the autumn rain will cover it
      with blessings.
They go from strength to strength;
      each appears before God in Zion.

Lord God of Hosts, hear my prayer;
      listen, God of Jacob.
Consider our shield, God;
      look on the face
    of Your anointed one.

Better a day in Your courts
      than a thousand anywhere else.
I would rather be at the door
      of the house of my God
than to live in the tents
    of the wicked people.
For the Lord God is a sun and a shield.
The Lord gives grace and glory;
      He does not withhold the good
    from those who live with integrity.
Happy is the person who trusts in You,
      Lord of Hosts!

What's in a Name?

Aidan
Gender:  Masculine
Usage:  Irish, Scottish, English (Modern)
Pronunciation:  AY-dǝn

Meaning & History
Anglicized form of Aodhán, which is from the Old Irish name Áedán, taken from Áed meaning "fire."  Aodhán was the given name of an Irish monk and saint of the 7th century and was also borne by many characters in Irish mythology.

The name Aidan became popular in America in the late 20th century, due to its sound - the suffix, aden, as found in the names Braden and Hayden.

In the Christian fantasy-fiction series of the Door Within Trilogy by Wayne Thomas Batson, this name was carried by the main character, Aidan Thomas, a young boy beckoned to enter another world - a realm filled with "knights, warriors, kings, and unusual creatures... Soon, Aidan is training to become the Twelfth Knight of an elite unit who will join Alleble in its long fight against the evil Paragory.  With the fate of two worlds hanging in the balance, will Aidan be willing to risk everything and trust the one true King?"  A great series to keep you on your toes, for pre-teens, teens, and the occasional adult.


Neveah
Gender:  Feminine
Usage:  English (Modern)
Pronunciation:  ni-VAY-ǝ

Meaning & History
The word heaven spelled backwards.  This name became popular after the musician Sonny Sandoval, of the rock group P.O.D., gave it to his daughter in 2000.


Ethan
Gender:  Masculine
Usage:  English, Jewish, French, Biblical, Biblical Latin
Pronunciation:  EE-thən (English)

Meaning & History
In Hebrew, this name means "solid, enduring" and was the given name of a prophet in the Old Testament.  Occasionally, it has been used in the English-speaking world after the Protestant Reformation, and increased in popularity in America due to the fame of the revolutionary Ethan Allen (1738-1789), only becoming common towards the end of the 20th century.  This was also the given name of the main character in Edith Wharton's novel "Ethan Frome" (1911).


Mia
Gender:  Feminine
Usage:  Scandinavian, Dutch, German, English
Pronunciation:  MEE-a (Scandinavian, Dutch, German), MEE-ǝ (English)

Meaning & History
Scandinavian, Dutch, and German form of Maria, a derivative of Mary, which, long story short, is most likely of Egyptian origin - possibly from myr "beloved" or mr "love."

This was the known name of Amelia Thermopolis in the Princess Diaries films, featuring Julie Andrews and Anne Hathaway.








Name definitions and history via behindthename.com.
Photos via Pinterest.

No Longer a Flame


No Longer a Flame
Prayer of the Lukewarm Christian
written by Sarah

In days gone by, I was a light;
On fire for God, His image and delight.
A burning flame without a care,
Sent to spread His love everywhere.
But as days went on, trial to trial,
My flame slowly faded, no longer a fire.

I wonder, what do people see?
When they look through the window at me?
Is it a true Follower, who would give their all?
Or the shell of a mask, like a beautiful doll?

Through the motions I went every day,
On the outside, the perfect Christian in every way.
Thoughts would come, which I dismiss.
Then a passage I heard, said this: 

      "Neither hot nor cold, are you,
But wretched, poor, and blind is true.
Buy from Me the purest gold,
Dress in the white garments I hold.
Open your eyes to the poison-deceit;
Fall on your knees, fall at My feet.

For I stand and knock at your door;
Pay attention! Listen! I shall settle the score.
If you will hear and answer My call,
A crown you shall wear, riches and all!
With the right to My throne, a victor you'll be,
Just as I Am also, having won the Great Victory."

As I pondered these words,
New hope sprang forth as a bird
And soared so high, I could feel the wind
Like a breath of love from Heaven's skin.

I see now, O King, the mask I've lived:
To myself, for myself - alone - I've give'd.
Accept my apology, I repent.
From now on, O Lord, I'm all in!

Light my candle, once again;
Mold me, use me more - amen!
Forgive me, Lord, I take the blame;
Ignite a fire, feed my flame!

-----------------------------------------------

I wrote this poem, spur of the moment, in the middle of a sermon our pastor preached, because all too often, I find myself in it.  It is so easy to give up and just let go.  Don't do it!

A couple Sundays ago, our pastor preached on the Lukewarm Christian, the passage taken from Revelation 3: 14-22.  It is a powerful passage, one that should bring you to your knees.  Below, you can read some of the notes I took during the message.

Pastor stated (respectively):  "This is not a message for the cold, for those who know nothing.  This is for the lukewarm, those sitting in their pew at church, twiddling their thumbs... I'm not talking about lukewarm lost people.  They're cold!  I'm talking about God's people."

apathy -- a + pathos = without passion

The lukewarm Christian, is a "follower" who has lost his/her passion for which he/she follows.  Their flame has burnt out, no longer shining a light for Christ.  On the outside, they may be the perfect Christian, but they are only going through the motions.  

Too many times, we find ourselves in the same situation.  Two years ago this February, I was doing it, and I still find myself struggling, every day.  But in His sweet mercy and grace, He allows us to run to His arms.  But we have to make that choice.

Revelation 3:16 says, "So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I am going to vomit [spit] you out of My mouth."

How could we [I] become so lukewarm, so passionless for Jesus, that He would want to spit us [me] out?  That [I] would make Him sick to His stomach? 

I carry the HCSB, and the notes on this passage (Rev. 3:17-19) sums it up quite well:

"Because many believers in the Laodicean church were rich and arrogant, they were completely blind to the fact that they were spiritually wretched and naked.  The only way Christ would give them spiritual sight and make them spiritually rich and properly dressed was for them to repent and be committed to Him, no longer going through the motions spiritually.  'As many as I love, I... discipline' (Rev. 3:19) echoes Proverbs 3:11-12, cited in Hebrews 12:6. 


Where is God now?  Is He in the Church?
No.  He's OUTSIDE knocking on the door. (Rev. 3:20)

Pastor concluded the message with a list of questions, each requiring a Yes or No answer.
Think about them carefully.

How do you know if you are lukewarm?

Are you living on the edge of personal holiness?
YES        NO

Are you serving without a burden for the lost?
YES        NO

Are you singing without the Spirit?
YES        NO

Are you spending very little time in the Scripture?
YES        NO

Are you spending very little time in prayer?
YES        NO

Are you giving, but not so much that your life is inconvenienced?
YES        NO

Are you rarely, if ever, sharing the Gospel?
YES        NO


   
Neutrality.
It is all too common in our world today.

Dare to be different!  Make a stand!

Don't let this get you down.  There's a living Hope out there just waiting for you to answer your door.

Blessings,
Sarah

Chainsaw Therapy


For the past few weeks, I've been stuck in my writing.  Both in the main story of Safia, and a short story featuring Peder, the star of this short, by the way.  One of the reasons, I'm sure, was because I was in the middle of finishing a couple books I was reading.  For me, while I love to read, mixing the two, doesn't quite work.

And so, yesterday I decided to try something totally new to me: 

Chainsaw Therapy.

What you will read below is the result of this writing exercise, thanks to a blogger, Lady Katie of Whisperings of the Pen, I stumbled upon a while back.  You can read her version here.  The whole purpose of this exercise is to keep your mind, your characters and your ideas fresh.  And I believe it works!  I had a lot of fun with this one.

Just a little bit of background:
        -  Peder Grey is actually a minor character in the bigger story of Safia I've been working on.  Hopefully, you'll get to see more of him soon.
        -  the Guard is an elite fighting force of Gondoa, a major country in Safia's world, based on the U.S., in medieval terms, of course.  The force is charged in the defense and protection of the castle, it's royal family, and the kingdom, in general.  There are three ranks:  Cadet, which covers the junior members and rookies of the Corps (Peder is one); Captain, which are the senior members (the Elf, Jaron); and Commander, the highest rank of officer in the force.  There are only three Commanders total in the whole force of 100 members, making up the Council of the Guard.

Please keep in mind this is a rough project...

Oh, and be warned, it may be a tad long...

But do enjoy!

chainsaw therapy
Featuring Peder Grey, Cadet Guard of Gondoa

    Peder sighed aloud in the stillness of late-evening. Patience was definitely not a virtue of his.
    Jaron had said to meet him here, and yet, Jaron himself was not here. It was unlike his Elvish partner to be late. Apparently, something of importance must have come up. There was no other explanation.
    He shrugged to himself, rubbed his neck out of habit, and reclined against the large trunk of oak. Dusk had fallen and the chilly air of Autumn began to get colder, giving Peder the feel of Winter.
    Rubbing chilled hands together, he debated on setting up a temporary camp, wondering how long Jaron was going to make him wait. His captain had sent no further instructions. Two hours past the time set to meet was far from normal for his Elf friend, even though he was known to be unpredictable.
    Again, he sighed and pulled himself to his feet, a decision made to at least start a fire, his rumbling stomach having helped to make the choice. With kindling gathered from the nearby area, he soon had a decent fire burning. Looking around at the surrounding wood, he wondered suddenly if this was some kind of test. But the tall giants of the Wyndor Forest were as majestic and silent as ever.
    “Come on, Cap,” he muttered, using the nickname he'd given Jaron as a captain of Gondoa's special force, the Guard. “I'd rather not be here all night,” he added, brushing sandy-blond hair from his face. His eyes flicked to his force's chosen weapons, a longbow and quiver, both resting against the trunk of his present seat, and his broadsword, secured at his belt. As a requirement of the Guard, each member was to be skilled in a number of weapons – among those mentioned above was the quarterstaff and double-daggers, a pair of well-balanced throwing knives, which he kept hidden.
    Resuming his previous position against the tree, he had just settled comfortably once more when an ear-splitting sound of foreign origin broke the calm of the night.
    GRRRGBBRRCHIKKAWHIRRRRHHHHHH!!!
    Instantly, the young man was on his feet, sword in hand, completely out of sorts as to what had made the unearthly noise, which now sounded off a steady growling rumble. With his back pressed against the tree he'd used, Peder slowed his breathing, relying on the long hours of stealth training to take over.
    Slowly, he peered around the vast trunk only to jump back to its protection at the sound of a tremendous crash, which he realized was the fall of a tree.
    Baffled and bewildered beyond belief, he peeked once again and caught sight of a bulky figure, holding the source of the terrible noise, some kind of metal... object. To the man's left lay the fallen trunk of an oak tree.
    Angered at this sudden destruction and intrusion upon the quiet of his country, Peder stepped from the shadow of the trunk and called through the dusky light to the intruder.
    “Hey! What in the realm of Gondoa do you think you're doing??”
    Surprised, the figure turned revealing an overly-bushy beard and what must be denim overalls, though Peder wouldn't know of this article of clothing. His faded, red flannel shirt, sweat-stained baseball cap, and scuffed work boots completed his strange outfit. Burly, hairy forearms protruded from rolled up sleeves and Peder found, to his amazement, that underneath the queer hat the man was entirely bald.
    Upon seeing Peder, the man's bearded face widened into what must be a smile, from which large white teeth showed.
    “Well, howdy there, laddie-buck! Come t' see m' handi-work, eh?” he shouted in greeting over the dull roar of the beast. With a gloved hand, he silenced the monster and set it on the freshly cut stump. Slapping his hands on his thighs to dislodge the shavings, he looked at Peder, who had stopped his forward progress, wary of the stranger. The man straightened, peered closer at the younger man, and laughed.
    “My, don't yew look a sight!” This statement brought a blush of angry red to Peder's cheeks and he stammered, sword still in hand, pointed at the man ten feet from him.
    “Wha– I look... a sight! Blast it, man, you–”
    “Nay, s'alright, laddie, I've seen worse in m' day,” said the stranger, holding up a hand. Removing his right-hand glove, he came forward, offering to shake. Peder, unsure of the gesture, backed up a step, and the burly figure noticed his sword for the first time.
    “Watcha got there? A pig-sticker? Haw! Wait-a-min'it...” The big man's face suddenly changed to confusion. “Where didja say this was? Gondoa? Ne'er heard o' that country,” he mumbled, scratching his bushy chin. Eyes wide, he looked anew at the young man, never giving Peder a chance to talk. “Ya mean I'm not in Kansas anymore?” As soon as the words left his mouth, he slapped his forehead with a large palm. “Darn it, wrong line,” he muttered, glaring up into the trees. 
    Peder's eyes darted up and he heard a giggle. Confused, he squinted trying to see what had caused it, but his peripheral vision caught the movement of the man before him and he returned his focus, jerking the point of his sword level, following the man's every move. The stranger pulled on his gloves and went to the stump where rested his beast.
    “Righty-ho, lad, I must be off. Thot these here woods looked odd, I did. Says I, must've stumbled into one o' those portal-mahickeys ya read in books an' the like. Ne'er imagined 'twould happen to this ol' coffer. Haha! Wait'll the boys hear this tale,” he went on to himself, rubbing his chainsaw tenderly. Mutely, Peder listened, the words jumbling together in his befuddled mind. He stiffened once again as the man starting walking, waving his free hand in the air, looking up and about for something obviously invisible.
    “Now, where did it go? Gotta be here somewhere... Ah! Here yew are, yew ol'–” The man's words were cut off and he vanished with a faint poof!.
    Peder couldn't stop his jaw dropping wide open, nor his eyes as they widened in disbelief. With sword still trained to where the man had vanished, he forced his feet to make a slow circle.
    Only the fallen tree and himself now occupied the immediate area. The surrounding trees seemed to stand as still as ever, innocently laughing at him.
    Darkness was almost complete, the light from the happy blaze glowing twenty feet away being the only source for as far as you could see. He let out a breath and started toward it, knowing the warmth of its reality would be a welcome sight.
    He had taken two steps when he heard the giggle. He froze and swung his sword up toward the trees. Realization dawned at this moment and he let out a nervous sigh of relief, though still quite angry. Sticking his sword point in the ground, he spoke.
    “Miss Sarah, I believe you owe me an explanation.” The giggle sounded again and a voice spoke from behind.
    “Dear Peder, I was only stuck in a bit of a rut, if you know what I mean,” the voice replied, rather sheepishly.
    Startled, he pivoted to face the speaker. A dark-haired maiden dressed simply in a full-length wine-red skirt and white blouse stood innocently with pen and notebook in hand. He relaxed his grip on the sword hilt and glared at his guest.
    “You beat everything, you know that? And no, I don't know what you're talking about.” She started to speak, but he continued, “and I don't really want to know. But the next time you send a crazed madman into my part of the world, think twice, alright?” The girl blushed and nodded, then giggled again.
    “You gotta admit, it was pretty funny.”
    He threw her an icy look.
    “Alright, alright,” she said, holding up both hands. “Nothing too weird in the near future.” Peder nodded once and she muttered. “Even though I had this great idea...” Her words faded when she caught the next look on her character's face. “Okay, relax. I'm going now.” He nodded again, blinked, and she was gone.
    Peder shook his head, as if to clear the mud from his thoughts.
    “Never going to get used to that.”
    He turned and suddenly came face to face with Jaron, who stood silently with a pair of horses tethered together.
    “Aaah!” he yelled, dropping his sword and stumbling backwards. Jaron grinned.
    “Jumpy, are we?”
    Peder glared at the Elf, but accepted his offered hand as Jaron pulled him to his feet.
    “Don't. Do. That,” Peder muttered, emphasizing each word. He dusted himself off.
    Jaron started for the fire but stopped short when he noticed the fallen tree and clean-cut stump. His eyebrows went up as he looked from the stump to Peder's sword, which the young man now held as he wiped it clean of dirt.
    “Don't ask,” he said.
    Jaron shrugged, there were more pressing matters at hand than finding an explanation for anything that happens in the presence of Peder, known for his laughter and care-free humor. Instead, he proceeded to fill a small pot with water from a water-skin to make coffee, knowing that would calm his skittish partner, somewhat. Unintentionally, because of a matter back at the castle, he had been forced to make Peder wait.
    “Change of plans,” he began, Peder looked up from adding wood to the blaze. “I apologize for the wait, but we have a new mission of great importance.” Forgetting, for the moment, the events of the evening, Peder turned all his attention to his partner, who pulled a piece of parchment from his shirt.
    “Our mission, should you choose to accept, is–”
    “Wait. Why did you say that?”
    “Say what?”
    “What – what you just said, 'should you choose to accept...' It's not like we have a choice, right?” He heard another giggle and nearly over-turned the pot while scrambling to his feet. Jaron's hand on his arm stopped him.
    “Forget it, Grey. Maybe you should get some sleep, we have an early start in the morning.” Folding the bit of parchment, the Elf threw him a bedroll and grinned as he watched the young man grab it and walk off a ways, muttering to himself. He thought he heard something like “madman” and “that woman.”  Moving to tend to the horses, he wasn't surprised by the voice.
    “Jaron, was I too hard on him?”
    “No, he'll get over it.” Jaron looked at the maiden now sitting by the fire petting a grinning purple cat. “That was your line, wasn't it?”
    “Well, sort of. I kinda borrowed it... Inspiration.”
    “Ah.”
    “And the other line, too.”
    “I see.”
    There was an awkward silence while the cat purred, still grinning broadly.
    “Do you think he's asleep?” she asked a moment later.
    “I can hear you.” Peder whispered in her ear. He had crept up behind her as they talked. Jumping, she shrieked and the cat disappeared. She glowered at Peder as he burst out laughing.
    “Peder Grey! You'll be the death of me!” But she started laughing, too.
    “I guess I deserved that,” she admitted, as the laughter died, Peder agreed.
    Sighing, she stretched her legs and breathed deeply, thoroughly enjoying the calm night and warm fire.
    “Thanks, guys, I needed this.”
    “You are always welcome at our fire.” Both men stood as she did and they exchanged a curtsy and bows.
    “Be careful on this new mission!” she said, picking up her notebook and starting down the path. They watched her until she vanished from view. Peder added another log to the fire and sat down, deep in thought.
    “Hey, Jaron?”
    “Hmm?” Jaron turned from the horses, half an apple in hand.
    “Do you think she could give me super-strength?”
    “What?”
    “You know, make me as strong as ten men or–”
    “Come on, Grey, bedtime.”
    Peder sighed.
    “Yes, Pa. 'Night, Pa.”
    He was promptly silenced by a harmless riding glove thrown his way.


Okay, I admit, I kinda went overboard on this one.  But it is just an exercise and hello! I'm the authoress!!  Ha!  I can do anything! the pages are my own! The world is MINE TO CONQUER!!!!!!!!! BWAHAHA!

Ahem.

Anyway, hope you got a kick out of it and if you are having a dreary, miserable day, I hope this brings a smile to your dreary, miserable features.

Until next time!

What's in a Name?


Peter
Gender:  Masculine
Usage:  English, German, Dutch, Scandinavian, Slovene, Slovak, Biblical
Pronunciation:  PEE-tǝr (English), PE-ter (German, Slovak), PAY-tǝr (Dutch)

Meaning & History
Derived from the Greek word petros, meaning "stone".


Jerusha
Gender:  Feminine
Usage:  Biblical
Pronunciation:  jǝ-ROO-shǝ (English)

Meaning & History
Means "possession" in Hebrew.  In the Old Testament, this was the given name of the wife of King Uzziah of Judah and the mother of Jotham.



Nathan
Gender:  Masculine
Usage:  English, French, Biblical, Biblical Latin, Biblical Greek
Pronunciation: NAY-thǝn (English)

Meaning & History
Hebrew for "he gave".  In the Old Testament, this was the given name of a prophet of God as well as a son of King David.  The prophet Nathan was the man who confronted the king of Israel upon his sin concerning Bathsheba. 
As a side note, VeggieTales has a great version of this story: King George and His Rubber Ducky.  Yes, we still watch them! =D
Since the Protestant Reformation, Nathan has been used a Christian given name in the English-speaking world.


Faina
Gender:  Feminine
Usage:  Russian
Pronunciation:  fah-EE-nah 

Meaning & History
Meaning unknown.  Possibly a form of Phaenna, which is derived from a Greek word meaning "shining".  According to some Greek myths, Phaenna was the given name of one of the three Graces or Charites.  

Side note:  Faina is a minor character in a fantasy I'm currently writing.  Essentially, she's only mentioned a couple times as the mother of the main character, Safia.

Here is a brief summary:
Faina died in a drowning accident near the white shores of her home on the coast of Charan (pro. shah-RAHN), leaving her husband, Gunnar Leifson, a renowned, and quite wealthy, Skahman merchant of Norskan descent (based on the Vikings of the North), to raise their only child, then age 10, as best he could.  Eight years later, Leifson's merchant vessel is attacked on open waters by a pack of wicked pirates flying the flag of the well-known Ishadi barbarian, Muhktar, captain of the Death's Avenger.  In the resulting battle, both ships are destroyed, killing everyone.  Only Safia survives, later rescued by a royal ship of Gondoa.  Nursing a reviving faith in the God of her past, whom she had previously abandoned eight years ago at the death of her mother, Safia slowly learns to trust wholly in Him and Him alone.

As his final wish, Gunnar charges Safia with the care of the family medallion, which holds a secret she must discover for herself, and directs her to find her mother's family, who reside in Charan.  "They ne'er liked me much, but you will remind them of her."  With the help of her new friends and the guiding hand of her Master, known to her as Eliadan or Adaan, Safia follows her father's dying command and returns to the country she vaguely remembered from her past.  There, she meets the family she never really knew and despite past wrongs, truly learns to love them.

But evil doesn't sleep.
Deception begins its slow poison from the inside out and the man responsible hungers for power.  Eventually, they meet, the lonely maiden and the man who murdered her father.  Vengeful of a lost love and missed opportunity of power, he seeks to destroy the Leifson line running through her veins, and in the process, bring a kingdom to ruin.

Family is important.  No one knows this better than Safia.  With the help of family, friends, and a mountain-moving faith, a kingdom is saved, a legendary treasure recovered, and a happily ever after in store.

---------------

Remember! this is an unfinished work... Still workin' on it...

Thanks for reading!

Fairfarren, my friends,
Sarah

Poetry

At last, I have finished Stepping Heavenward, and what a beautiful book it is!  I would readily recommend this to any young lady, especially those like me, struggling with contentment, bad attitudes, selfishness.

The poem below is featured in the last few pages of the book.  I thought I'd share it with you. =]


O Gift of Gifts!
Mrs. Elizabeth Prentiss

O gift of gifts! O grace of faith!

My God! How can it be
That Thou, who has discerning love,
Shouldst give that gift to me?

How many hearts Thou mightest have had

More innocent than mine!
How many souls more worthy far
Of that sweet touch of Thine?

Oh, grace! Into unlikeliest hearts

It is thy boast to come,
The glory of Thy light to find
In darkness spots a home.

Oh, happy, happy that I am!

If thou canst be, O faith
The treasure that thou art in life
What wilt thou be in death?



Blessings this day!

Blessings,
Sarah

Passage to Ponder

Romans 13:11-14
"Besides this, knowing the time, it is already the hour for you to wake up from sleep, for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.
    The night is nearly over, and the daylight is near, so let us discard the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.  Let us walk with decency, as in the daylight: not is carousing and drunkenness; not in sexual impurity and promiscuity; not in quarreling and jealousy.

But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no plans to satisfy the fleshly desires."

Happy New Year!


Blessings this New Year!